The Duke - November 26, 2014

Robert Plant
Robert Plant
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I’m sure The Manager won’t mind me mentioning it but she’s hurtling towards a milestone birthday.

She’s clearly not brushing it under a carpet because her gift list is longer than a Jane Austen novel and we seem to be going out for enough celebratory meals to qualify for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

Anyway she recently took great delight in informing me she could be on the cusp of making a big decision because people are more likely to make changes when their current age ends in a nine and they are about to enter another decade.

It seems researchers with nothing better to do have analysed the responses of 42,000 adults from more than 100 countries who completed a survey about their values between 2010 and 2014.

They found that people with an age ending in nine were more likely to make changes “that suggest a search for meaning” such as “taking up marathon running” or “joining an extra marital dating site”.

The first worries me a bit because, fit though she is, there’s a world of difference between 40 minutes in the gym a couple of times a week and legging it around the streets for umpteen miles wearing lumpy Lycra and raising funds for the Widowers of Crazy Marathon Running Women Who Should Be Old Enough to Know Better charity.

The second worries me because since we’ve both retired we’ve downsized to one car and I’m pretty sure any extra marital dating would involve complicating even further the carefully constructed rota of who gets behind the wheel at any given time.

They both additionally worry me as well because if your age ends in a nine because you are, in fact, nine then you shouldn’t be worrying your little head too much about either marathons or extra marital affairs.

Lead author of the research is Adam Alter from New York University so, given the USA’s tendency to exaggerate, perhaps we more laid back Brits needn’t worry too much.

Anyway, he says: “People audit the meaningfulness of their lives as they approach a new decade. People tend to either conclude happily that their lives are meaningful or they decide their lives lack meaning.”

The team discovered that some people will engage in “productive behaviours” such as taking up a new sport.

But Professor Alter adds: “In contrast to this adaptive behaviour some people might struggle to come to terms with the conclusion that their lives lack meaning. They might seek a socially damaging extramarital affair.”

I’m rather hoping The Manager falls into the “productive behaviour” category especially as a study carried out by Oddfellows, the 200-year old “friendship group” that holds social events and provides support for pensioners, reckons one in three over 70s consider themselves “very happy” compared to only one in six of those aged 50 to 60.

The unexpected joys of retirement include “regaining a social life,” “enjoying good health” and “not having to leave chores and arduous tasks until the weekend.”

We are, says Gothenburg University academic Professor Ingmar Skoog (honestly), who has studied the health and well-being of pensioners since 1971, “the rock and roll generation born in the 1930s and1940s who are not going to be sitting on a park bench feeding the birds. Being 75 today is probably like being 55 was 30 years ago.”

How very true and to prove it tonight I’m taking The Manager to see that slip of a lad Robert Plant (he’s recently turned 66) in concert at Blackpool Tower Ballroom. But first we’ll have a sneaky Nando’s.

Well, if nothing else keeps her away from those extramarital dating sites that should do the trick.

Keep your germs to yourself at parties

I always knew there was a reason I was never a particular fan of the office Christmas party.

At the time I thought it was because, due to the pressure of deadlines, I was always late arriving at the annual shebang then usually had to leave early and sober because of having to review a pantomime or something similar.

It was also partly due to feeling a bit of a twerp wearing an ill- fitting party hat and realising it was too late to start remembering all those inter departmental names I’d not uttered since last year

Now it seems I was doing myself a favour because had the unthinkable happened and I’d puckered up under the mistletoe for an alcohol induced snog I could have been on the receiving end of around 80 million different bacteria.

Party pooping boffins from the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research and the Micropia Museum in Amsterdam found that the amount of bacteria in saliva increases three fold after an intimate kiss.

That means swapping around 80 million bacteria during a 10 second session.

That’s actually a mere drop in the bacterial ocean when you consider there are more than 100 trillion micro-organisms floating around in our bodies at any given time.

Even so, I reckon here on in I’ll stick to a peck on the cheek – should the chance ever arise.